Sunday, November 30, 2014

Almond Joy Tart

Almond Joy Tart - made November 22, 2014 from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
 As I gear up for holiday baking, I start thinking about tarts. I don’t know why except they’re a step away from pie (and Thanksgiving always seems to be about pie – except for me) and they can be classed up for the holidays. Plus, in all honesty, I was checking my “Still Need to Bake” files on my computer and I got sick of seeing the Almond Joy Tart file at the top all the time, mocking me that I hadn’t made it yet. Until now.

I still had some of the coconut pastry cream (my regular pastry cream recipe with coconut added to it) so it saved me the trouble of making the filling. I just had to make the dough which turned out to be the easiest thing ever. I don’t usually use my food processor to make dough but this came together so easily and quickly that I’m going to have to get over my aversion to use and clean my food processor (I live in terror of cutting myself on that wicked sharp blade) and just suck it up. Because this dough turned out fabulously in just a couple of minutes. Imagine that.
It was also very easy to work with. Because the dough was so malleable but not sticky, I ended up shaping it into the tart pans as soon as I had made it and then chilled it. Probably broke the Baked baking rules but I like to live on the edge.

Blind baked it then browned it, cooled it, spread the coconut pastry cream over it and poured the ganache over it. I do advise letting the ganache cool and thicken so it doesn’t run down the sides of the tart and look messy. Ahem. Yes, learn from my mistakes. Instead of garnishing with a whole almond, I ended up sprinkling chopped toasted almonds over the ganache and they added a nice crunch. Once again also scored on the parental taste buds as my mom praised the crust as “it’s not too sweet”. She even went so far as to suggest I use that crust recipe for anything else I make that requires a crust. Er, okay, Mom.
Someday I should probably make the filling from the original recipe but for now, I liked how this turned out. The crust was good, not too sweet (ha) or too buttery but with good flavor and texture, I always love the coconut pastry cream and the chocolate was just right as a blend of semisweet and milk chocolate. If you prefer more of a dark chocolate, ala Boston Crème Pie, you might want to make the ganache with all dark chocolate. If you bake this in individual-size tart pans like I did, it makes for a nice addition to a holiday care package or baked gift as it’s small enough to be part of a baked goods ensemble without dominating the gift pack.
Almond Tart Dough
1 large egg
¼ cup whole toasted almonds
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

Coconut Cream Filling
8 ounces good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon light rum

Chocolate Glaze
2 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
6 whole toasted almonds

Make the Almond Tart Dough
  1. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg and set it aside.
  2. Put the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground.  Add flour and salt and pulse again just until mixed.  Add the butter and pulse just until sandy (about 6 to 10 quick pulses).  Pour in the egg and pulse just until the dough begins to cohere into a ball.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make the Coconut Cream Filling
  1. Place the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat the cream just to a boil.  Pour it over the white chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds.  Slowly, starting in the center of the bowl, whisk the cream and white chocolate until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate this ganache for 4 hours or overnight before proceeding.
Assemble the tart
  1. Dust a work surface with flour.  Place the disk of chilled dough on the work surface and divide it into 6 equal portions.  Shape each into a smooth disk. (Note: the dough will be sticky.  Make sure to turn it with a bench knife or offset spatula as needed and keep the working surface floured.)  Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a 5 ½-inch circle just over 1/8 inch thick.  Very gently press each dough round into a 4-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
  2. Place the tart pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375⁰F. 
  3. Line the tart crusts with aluminum foil, and fill each one three-quarters full with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake them for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Transfer the tart pans to a wire rack to cool.
Make the Coconut Cream Filling
  1. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the white chocolate ganache at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Do not overwhip.  Gently fold in the coconut and the rum.  Divide the filling evenly among the cooled tart shells and place them in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate glaze.
Make the Chocolate Glaze
  1. Place the milk and dark chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it is just about to boil.  Pour it over the chocolates and whisk to combine.  Let the mixture set for about 10 minutes.  Remove the tarts from the refrigerator and spoon the glaze evenly over each one.  Top each tart with one almond and refrigerate again until the glaze sets up, about 10 minutes.
  3. The tarts can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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